1999 Student-Faculty Fellows: Colorado College

Japan: Diversity in Language: The Japanese /r/ Sounds

Mentor: Joan E. Ericson, Japanese
Student: Andrew J. Schroeder, ’99, Physics/English


Andrew J. Schroeder

Being my first experience with such a large research project, the trip taught me many things about preparing for such projects. Mainly, I learned the importance of consulting experts in the intended field of study. As for the research itself, I am quite pleased with the results as well as all I learned while doing the research. The trip will continue to be a part of my life for sometime to come–and not only in the form of hours and hours of data analysis. My first foray into linguistic research was too interesting and too much fun to allow it to be my last. I was fortunate to have been given this opportunity, and I would like to thank ASIANetwork for making the trip a reality.

Prof. Joan E. Ericson

I realize even more than before how important it is to be ready to mentor our students not only in the preparation of a project, but also in its execution. I am grateful to ASIANetwork for this opportunity to foster a young researcher and scholar of Japanese, and to have a part in overseeing that he have a productive and positive experience conducting his research in Japan. I also look forward to the conclusion of this project which will result in a pedagogical tool for students of Japanese. During our time in Japan, I was able to re-establish connections with scholars and educators at seven locations, and in my discussions with them, explore the possibilities of related studies and research. I was also able to carry out some of my own research during the several days I remained in Tokyo after the student returned home. More importantly, throughout the research trip, I was able to take dozens of photos with my new digital camera, and have already begun to use them in Power Point demonstrations in my Japanese Culture course.

Research Findings

The main result is that dialect differences seem to be minimized when reading. Despite this fact, our ears were able to discern a few differences. These differences are interesting in that they represent specific remnants of classical Japanese. The data analysis to follow may reveal some more subtle differences that our ears did not perceive.

Venues for Sharing

We presented initial findings to the Colorado College community during the summer of 1999. The audience was composed mainly of a Japanese class and several members of the physics department. We discussed initial findings and ways in which the students will be able to use the equipment to improve their pronunciations of the /r/ phonemes. We plan to attend the ASIANetwork conference in April. Andy hopes to use the techniques developed during the trip with students he will teach while on the JET Program.